University of Pittsburgh
March 14, 2004

Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh Jointly Announce Major National Public Events Observing 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education March 26 and May 7

Contact:  412-624-4147

Contact: Bob Woodside, Duquesne University



Sharon Blake, University of Pittsburgh


PITTSBURGH—Duquesne University President Charles Dougherty and University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg jointly announce a pair of major free public programs to be held in Pittsburgh March 26 and May 7 observing the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, which struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine and held that Black children had a constitutional right to attend the same public schools as White children, changing the face of America.

Funding for these special programs has been generously provided by The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

From 2 to 5:30 p.m. March 26, the two universities will jointly sponsor "Brown v. Board of Education: A Fifty-Year Commemoration," to be held at the Duquesne University Ballroom, in the campus Student Union. This program will be one of the nation's preeminent legal/historical retrospectives observing the golden anniversary of the Brown case. Organized by Duquesne Law Professor Ken Gormley, a 1977 Bachelor of Arts alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh, it will bring together many of the key individuals who played roles in the dramatic events relating to the Brown decision and its aftermath, among them:

Columbia University Law Professor Jack Greenberg, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Pollak and, via video, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Carter (all lawyers who argued and worked on the historic Brown case with the late Thurgood Marshall);

Julian Bond (chair of the NAACP and civil rights activist whose father worked on the Brown brief);

Minnijean Brown (one of the "Little Rock Nine" escorted to high school in Arkansas by the National Guard in 1957);

Vivian Malone Jones (student barred at the schoolhouse door in Alabama by then-Governor George Wallace);

Willie Shepperson (plaintiff involved in the 1964 Griffin v. Prince Edward County case, in which public schools were shut down for four years to keep Blacks out);

Nicholas deB. Katzenbach (former Deputy U.S. Attorney General in the Kennedy Administration and U.S. Attorney General in the Johnson Administration, who was actively involved in responding to Southern states' efforts to resist Brown);

Dr. Genna Rae McNeil (biographer of Thurgood Marshall mentor Charles Hamilton Houston, who masterminded the attack on the "separate but equal" doctrine);

Joseph A. DeLaine Jr. (member of the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Presidential Commission, whose father, the Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine, Sr., was a plaintiff in the South Carolina Briggs v. Elliott lawsuit, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 8, 1952, and Dec. 7, 1953; Briggs was the first of five lawsuits that the Supreme Court combined into the historic Brown case).

Bond and Gormley will serve as moderators.

Among the special guests will be Charles Hamilton Houston Jr. and Thurgood Marshall's youngest son, John Marshall. At the conclusion of the program, these guests will reflect upon the Brown anniversary and accept posthumous Presidential Citations to be awarded jointly by President Dougherty and a representative for Chancellor Nordenberg. As part of the program, there will be an appearance by Rutha Mae Harris of the Freedom Singers, accompanied by the Mt. Ararat Baptist Choir.

The May 7 program, titled "50 Years After Brown: New Solutions for Segregation and Academic Underachievement" and organized by Larry E. Davis, dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and director of Pitt's Center on Race and Social Problems, will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 7 at the Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., in Oakland. It will be moderated by Chris Moore, host of WQED-TV's "Black Horizons."

The "50 Years After Brown" program will feature leading scholars and academics in the United States on the issue of race and education, including Dr. Gary Orfield (a professor in the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of the Harvard Project on School Desegregation); Dr. James Comer (professor of child psychiatry at Yale); Kati Haycock (director of the Education Trust at the American Association of Higher Education); Dr. Abigail Thernstrom (senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of "No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning"[Simon & Schuster, 2003]); and Dr. John Thompson (superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools).

"We are thrilled to participate in this collaborative effort of national significance with our colleagues at Duquesne University," said Chancellor Nordenberg. "The

Brown case argued by the late Thurgood Marshall is one of the great landmarks in American history. It is fitting to commemorate its golden anniversary in this special fashion. We are proud that Pittsburgh will be the site of one of the premier celebrations in the country."

Added President Dougherty: "The issue of achieving equality for all races in education is one of the great challenges that has confronted America, and will continue to confront our nation in the 21st century. Duquesne University is excited to work with Chancellor Nordenberg and the talented faculty of the University of Pittsburgh to produce a commemoration of the Brown anniversary that is unmatched in the United States."

The March 26 legal/historical program will be cosponsored by the two universities in conjunction with the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan. Complimentary tickets for that event can be obtained by e-mail at or by contacting the Brown-Pittsburgh Commemoration hotline at 412-396-5131. For further details and registration information on the

May 7 conference, visit